Saturday, 20 July 2013

The challenges of 'bonding ' a large diverse family.

 When my 3rd child was born my two sons both were very clearly on the spectrum, my eldest was ADHD/PDDNOS and my second son had the suggested diagnosis of non specific developmental delay later changed to Aspergers when he found his voice and we moved to the UK. I wondered just how they would adapt to her arrival and how my eldest would take to being weaned in order to accommodate my newborn. I chose to Tandem feed my second son and before her due date my eldest just announced , well I think I have to just have my cup now because of the baby. Nothing more was said . He just suddenly stopped.
My little girl had to become accustomed very quickly to a lot of tantrums and we did our best to stop my second son from poking and hissing at her too much although he did manage the odd nip when we were distracted as caught in the photo above. They did however show a lot of interest in her and would place her in a toy box as if she were a doll propped up. They would insist she was bought downstairs at the same time as them and it became very clear that my routine and schedule would have to be very tight with visual reminders that mummy needed a break too - a large - mummy time sticker with a coffee cup on it . The deal was if I had a cup of coffee in my hands that meant that until I was done drinking it they could not pull me over to do what they wanted . This of course had me drinking as much as 10 cups of coffee a day on some days as they could be very demanding . If you do not have a non verbal child I will explain, mine would tug on me and cry and whine , you would then be lead over and he would repeatedly make whooshing noises and become very frustrated when I asked him to point, unlike my eldest he so no point to pointing at things and very quickly found that his brother and he had their own understanding and he would just know what he wanted . I saw a very strong bond develop between them even back then .I also noticed that my two boys had weaned at about the age of 3 1/2 whilst my daughter weaned at the age of 15 months again , she was far to keen on moving about to have to sit still .

As the family grew it was interesting to see how the children would pair off together and play. Now by this stage I had 5 children my daughter amused my 3rd son always prepared to soothe him with showing him brightly coloured things and reading him stories .She was developing quite a strong personality and showed early signs that she was playing the role of mini mum on the childcare front. My eldest son too stepped up with his dad absent he joined in with play with his younger sisters and helped with chores around the house .

Accepting his stepdad and my two new children was hardest for him at first as he had an explosive temper and always reacted without thinking which lead to many a trashed toy or room.

 At one stage I was so overwhelmed with the combination of tantrums on the street and in the home I really thought I had made a terrible mistake. I had one setting a string of plastic peppers on light - he placed them in the oven - just to see what would happen.  He became obsessed with fire and flames taking the opportunity to explore this in a safer way we established a time where he could help with the BBQ and we would go and see a bonfire and we would let him watch his favourite movie in which a boy lit fire from his fingers over and over as this seemed to make him calmer and soothe the craving for his obsession .The other had developed a smearing faze and I was forever cleaning and repainting the bathroom and the laundry seemed never ending. I was tandem feeding my youngest two and attending classes at the hospital to get support on how to deal with their tantrums.
At the same time I was hosting coffee mornings for the NAS to support others and NCT coffee mornings to meet other mums. Despite my feelings of inadequacy I was always complimented on how well behaved and well mannered all my children where in public. That was the key of course in public we could all put on a fabulous performance. Dinners out with smiley happy well mannered clean children, shopping trips with no screaming and these moments are what kept me holding on hoping to keep that family feeling when we got behind closed doors .

Of course These days I realise that every new parent no matter whether it is the first or their 6th looks and compares their children and their parenting skills are measured  when surrounded by others. We all want those perfect picture moments, the reality is you need not worry you are UNIQUE and so is everyone else so stop worrying  ! - ( my daughters favourite phrase) I am pleased to say my children have become very independent and despite having two at boarding school we do maintain a close family bond and we share our picture perfect moments beyond a simple public photograph .

My eldest now has a flat of his own but chooses to come home to visit and invites his siblings over to have a dinner treat or cinema night with him 1 on 1 . My 17 & 16 year old share an incredibly protective bond always looking out for each other and always laughing.

And whilst it may have taken time , it was worth all those hours we spent at the dinner table playing family games and sharing stories. With only 3 at home of course games are a lot quieter and we look forward to having every one home.  Even now we have moved house one of the most exciting boxes to undo was our family games night boxes which has taken prime position in the kitchen ready to keep that family feeling going , when all the children are home together .

Thursday, 11 April 2013

What is it like to have 5 siblings on the Autism Spectrum ? Autism Awareness ramblings 2013.

 To do my part in raising awareness I thought it was time to show you some of the wonderful things I have enjoyed with the children this week. The collage is from my facebook page and I will leave it up for the month. My youngest collects frogs and loves the multi scensory bright lights and play areas which we fist discovered at the very first Autism Show. It will be in it's third year. I would suggest you pop along it is a fabulous day out and you will see some great speakers and come away feeling like you have been armed with a newness and fresh perspective on life and if you do take your child any age there are quiet rooms and plenty of places to discover .
 This was taken many years ago when I was raising awareness just for a week for the NAS not sure where the other 6 days went but just wanted to share . I really do feel having a safe zone and having the right information and peer support helps every step of the way. I used to host regular coffee mornings at my home basically so we could share stories , sometimes grieve, sometimes celebrate but most importantly share. I had a bookcase full of books on the subject that I had collected and I would led them out. I finally donated these this year as I am about to move into a much smaller home . But I am glad I was able to help with my free lending library for so long. They have gone to a small health center who did not have many books on the subject so will continue to be used to help others.
 Having only 1 daughter who does not have a diagnosis and is not on the spectrum she often felt left out. Fortunately when her eldest brother who is obcessed with competition entries won a day with Girls Aloud all he wanted was the certificate saying he was a winner. So she benefitted from a very special day .But How do you compensate when they do feel like all your attention is being paid to helping the ones who seem to need it most. For me , before blogging I wrote articles for submission to magazines and newspapers and this enabled me to help others but also became a form of therapy a release. Much like my mummy ramblings really.
 Sadly when we did articles on just the two of us they were never picked up , The Daily mail almost published an article on what it was like to have a divided family at Christmas and she cherished this photo as she had her make up done and hair professionally even though it was done in our kitchen she enjoyed the pampering and the quasi interview format and a little bit of mummy time. The photographer was superb and even emailed her some head shots suggesting she should look into modelling. But it made me realised that the key to our close bond was our openness to possibilities.

 She is a popular girl at college and is quite tiny in size , fortunately she does have a best friend who is as close to a neurotypical brother who lives just down the road. It is lovely to see how she has coped . I am sure she has had to find her own ways of dealing with just how rigid some of the early years were with set routines. Oddball meal plans , but now thanks to her maturity she is able to understand more than ever why she is different from her siblings but that she is certainly no less special to me.  She is growing into a neurotypical teenager and I am loving the challenge.   I decided as I have spent a lot of time on activities with the others we would indulge her in preparation for her prom this year . After a quick shot of her thanks to her friend. I booked her a pre prom trial to get some ideas of what she might like on her big day below is a collage but naturally she does not want to give the final look away as she wants a big Wow on the night . I am sure when her faux bro prom date comes to collect her he will smile:-) for more details.
 I think  enjoyed our time alone and of course I felt she looked like my little princess .For us it is this quality time together that we will remember for years to come not the presents or clothes . It is memories you build that remain in your hearts.

With that in mind I leave you with a little review on last night's bedtime story.

My views/reviews  are my own and not those of Barefoot books :

Princess Cinnamon Stitch is adorable she simply does not want to fit in. She's told what is expected of her but would much rather be doing her own thing . Can she show her mum and dad  that there's more to her life than being pretty and good? My 8 year old loved it and repeated the Yippee! Perfect for use as a social story for someone on the ASD or simply for your Tomboys . Personally as a mum I felt the rhyming made it easy for her to listen  to and the  instructions for making your own kite make it a great hands on project for some shared time with mummy.

It is beautifully written By: Juliet Clare Bell; Brightly illustrated By: Laura-Kate Chapman
And comes with a super CD version narrated By: Imelda Staunton -  Find out more here

Lastly  a shot taken last year with two of my Aspie friends and my youngest daughter . for more details.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Autism Awareness Month begins with a Fun Day out and monkey business .


Last week has just flown by , like many of you I had the children home and was wondering just how I would cope amusing them all with their varied interests and still keep an element of sanity in my house as I continue to box up in the hopes of news on moving before the end of the month . With less than two weeks to vacate my current home we decided to take advatage of the Sunday afternoon sunshine and took my 17 year old and 8 year old for an afternoon trip. This of course may seem stange to any of you that have followed my blogs as you know I now have 5 children living with me , but it just so happened it was my ex husbands weekend to have our 11 & 12 year old and my daughter had already travelled with a friend to Alton Towers for a Birthday break. So we seized the day.
We had lots of ideas thanks to the previous day of research using an app and headed out to try Longleat so we could all go on Safari.  The drive there enabled us to show the children one of the virtual landmarks from the app in real life and we found the age gap between the two children closed as we adventured across the roped ladders to the first stopping point to find the Lemurs which we had also seen on the app. They were snuggled in a pile and hard to see . My son asked - what are we looking at in here a Chinese tree garden? ..My husband spotted the mole hills and said , well I thought it said Lemmings back there .. then my youngest squealed with delight as a black and white baby tail came into view - conversations like these are common in our house!

It took us just over and hour and a half to get round the Safari and we had just enough time to enter the beautiful gardens and the lavish home to explore the dolls houses and many ornate rooms. The children by this stage exhausted but still taking everything in right down to sharing the ghostly tale of the haunted hallway. It made the next couple of days much easier as whilst I got on with more packing the children set about drawing discovering more about the animals and where they came from in the comfort of our cozy lounge as it was quite chilly by the end of the day. I would strongly advise you layer the kids up especially for the little train ride as it gets very windy on their ears and my son gave me his scarf for mine so clearly I felt it too!

#daisychains thumbs up from ENVIROWEALTH!
The Packing has continued along with a lot more game playing and virtual exploring. The girls spent a little time Facepainting each other . My tip having tried most facepaints if your children like mine have very sensitive skin is to try and get hold of Paradise paints , they smell of coconut oil, wash off really well and whilst normally I would make a home made batch I simply did not have the time this week . For a non water clean up a gentle make up remover like the Sei Bella eyemake up remover is great around the eyes . But I am sure most kids can tolerate a mild soap or baby wipes , mine just don't they come up all red and end up with dry patches so I learned the hard way.
 We then spent several hours playing and learning a new game called Batabanga , which have to say as a family with so many different abilites was ideal . We played a simple version until we could recognise the cards and patterns which are beautifully illustrated in Safari themes. Then we added in the rules one by one until we were playing at quite some speed with shreeks of Banga and a lot of giggles as cards were flipped over in an attempt to be the winner of the round.  The older more competitive children challenged me - I have the memory of a fish (sorry fish) . They beat me hands down and loved it.

 I managed to get some much needed rest as the older children took it upon themselves to amuse the younger ones now and then and we managed a much simpler game for my youngest which she proudly taught me just today . Fortunately there is no winner , ( she like my other has ASD and is often not willing to play a game with someone else if there is any chance she may loose and yet I was pleased that whilst this was aimed at a younger child she came to me with it after reading the rules )

 It is a lovely collaborative game in which you work together to gather the escaped chickens and get them back into the chicken coop. We played three rounds and I am sure if not for my need to get on she would still begging me for another round. I guess the key for me this week was achieveing a balance . As a family we divided up and then reunited and each showed each other and enjoyed finding out what we had been doing .

 The other interesting challenge I face was set by my 12 year old , who has an incredible reading speed of 786 words a minute on average with a 98% retention rate (she has Aspergers and of course this month is Autism Awareness month so I should point out - she is 1 of 5 that I have on the spectrum and no not all of them are super readers and none of them are the same they are all unique !) My score delighted her as it showed an average of 487 words a minute with a 86% retention rate - I blame it on my age LOL !  But here is the link if you fancy trying it yourself.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Feeling peachy and a couple of apps to keep my children busy last weekend .

 First of all I wanted to apologise for the lack of #daisychains regardings the apps the children were trying out - I will get round to it , in fact we have a few more reviews on their way so hope to have something fairly soon.
 In the meantime we were having a bit of a peach week having sourced a preloved designer prom dress and upcycling it with a bit of bling , this inspired the bespoke cake huge thanks to my talented cakey friend Nina as it matched beautifully.
Well it is Easter weekend and although I am all boxed up to hoping to be moved already. Frustrated with things . I did find a photo from when I had my first son and we used to make pompoms to sell them at Easter and deliver baskets made up with all sorts of fun filled things. This was our last Easter in the USA as by the next year things had taken a turn for the worse and we came home. This next one was taken in the homeless accommodation in which we took shelter  . Surrounded with boxes ready to move enjoying some more crafts and making the most of things . So here I sit surrounded by boxes awaiting news on a move date . The situation once more out of my hands . But thankfully my eldest has already moved out and has a place of his own and my other children are older and able to understand that this is a temporary state a mere hiccup along the way to a smoother life - or so I keep trying to convince myself .
Although I do have my days ! By Christmas of that same year we had been housed and we were still trying to be creative making our son a Bat cave and decorating empty boxes  to make it look more festive . We toughed it out then and and looking back I know I have to be sensible and just tough it out again. So back to my mummy ramblings -
So this year how have will I be keeping the children amused ? Well I decided to look into some apps and ask them each to find and that were free that they fancied and see what they could find that each of their siblings might also enjoy . 

 I gave the children a little nudge as we looked at recycling games there were several free  ones to choose from . The most popular was Recycle HD as it had a lot of information and was very easy to use and she liked seeing the instant rewards. She also did not have the frustration of getting it wrong and very soon was telling me about the game . My 11, 12 year old found the content too simple and yet they could see why she also chose recycle heroes too as whilst a bit young for either of them it did cause a fair bit of merriment as they each took a turn.

 Both apps were very infomative - I did not expect my 8 year old to explain to me that we should have packed using real popcorn like they used to but that it was okay that I had used old newspapers but not as much fun ! She also has some rather grand ideas on making tin flowers for the garden ( I had better not show them pininterest they will be wanting to recycle and upcycle projects all the time LOL !)
Then we looked at one which links back to my precious post on books - we had downloaded a super little app to show my youngest were her Nanny lived and were other family members were. We thought we would get it out and see what the older kids made of it . Soon enough my 12 year old was showing me Stonehenge , my 8 year old reaching over to press for audio and my 11 yr old asking when can he look up Southpole and some Explorer . Suddenly all three of them were chunterring on as they flipped literally from one side of the world to the other discovering clips . It was interesting to see the three of them were as interested in showing off their current knowledge but also used it as a sort of game . I am really looking forward to getting the actual book now to see how my youngest gets on with it .

 We even found the average CO2 emissions , population, and the kids will certainly look forward to using it for any projects , but something tells me it will be played with pretty regularly until we find another one that we can all enjoy together.
 You can find out more about books we love here

 We even had enough time to get my daughter to take another look at my website so that you can find and follow me as I know a few people are leaving comments as to how else to get in touch about specific posts .

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Enviros & this weeks #daisychains had us hopping around like rabbits !

 We began our #daisychains with some of our Barefoot Books favourites and asking for people to let us know what inspired them and which classics did they have fond memories of and we popped the links up showcasing 3 wonderful new stories and one classic the Snow Queen which has been beautifully illustrated . We were surprised to find a lot of crafters loves not only stories they heard as children , the ones they read themselves and now the ones they read to their children or grandchildren evoke such powerful memories and this lead to looking at a few more of the classics and how they were being transformed by some very talented small businesses. The Classic Goldilocks coming alive on Cakes By Nina - still a firm favourite even in my house - who doesn't like all the silly voices of mummy bear and daddy bear when they come home and find someone has been eating their porridge! Then of course there is our other edible friend The Gingerbread man , in fact this one I spotted the button and to my delight was able to ask for a bespoke present for a very special Gingerbread man of my own . We have often joked about the gingerbread man in shrek when he says Oh no not my buttons and this is my alternative easter gift to my husband to remind us that even when we are down to our last button we still have each other and a good story to tell at that !

Then I began to think about what sort of people are currently visiting the envirowealth page and wanted to find something that sort of showcased the diverse nature of this little community page that is slowly growing in number little by little . I stumbled across a lovely page and fell in love with this particular photo of hers - It sums our community page up  - some of us are there to browse and support each others little businesses, we have fashion gurus, health experts, jewellery makers, hairdressers, small shop owners, make up artists and all sorts of other services and information .I hope they feel we are doing the best we can to show our support for all . check out her blog I have been reading the stories to my youngest they are delightful and she really can make you anything you could imagine..check out her new page on facebook for more details .

 Then I spotted this little chap and thought how wonderful a gift he would make - we all know how hard it is to find something bespoke for the men in our lives either for Easter or any special occasion. I think that is why these little facebook shops are so wonderful they offer a personal service , those extra touches that make you feel part of the process . It is the relationship you build with them not the ammount of posts you see that have you going back for more . Something will catch you eye and you will have liked the page to book mark it . Maybe you leave it 3 weeks on your newsfeed to see if anything takes your fancy , then click to either hide all the posts or simply unsubscribe.
 I find the worst thing you could do is like a page just for the sake of it .  A like on a page is simply a book mark - an acknowledgement - an element of I support and like what you are doing . You can choose whether you want it on your newsfeed. Some people come over like wait for you to like back , common courtesy may lead some to do this then unlike you affecting the visibility of your posts and this can be quite upsetting when your posts are already being limited to a small percentage of views .
 On our page we do not sell anything - whilst I founded it based upon my need to be actively doing the best I can I try to cover a variety of topics in the hopes more people would interact and think about how best to use what social media can offer them . For me it offers me the chance to help others. It gives me a pleasurable hobby that I can do even when I am laid up in bed and on a good day inspires me to muck about with the kids and let them get creative .
 Sometimes , when we can we will pop a link up to help you source something, other times we might get a question like the one about sourcing a scarf tie - here we spotted a fairtrade coconut one but we are still on the search for something a little more fun for the Summer .
 We also try and show some of the newcomers who are showing us that they are doing the best they can to keep up with trends and new ideas. This for example was made to order and if you pop over she even has the exciting reveal on a video clip as she turns the bag inside out for the very first time . There is something quite exciting about sharing someone else s triumph .
 The bag made me think of sunshine and summer days which took me back to this link A few years ago my daughter had her own little online shop called Phoebe's Corner it lead to her appearing on TV at the time as the youngest guest designer , one of her very first little pieces pictured below , She was almost 10 at the time and stopped when she had to go to boarding school. One day I am sure she will pick it back up as a hobby but I am afraid books for her have become her passion and writing stories and novels is now her thing .She sourced all natural materials and was already quite the Enviro herself . She insisted on making each one unique and would even give them little names adding to the whole charm of her creations.

You can find Elodie Beads by clinking here.
So what is an enviro ...World English Dictionary
enviro  (ɪnˈvaɪrəʊ) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]
n  , pl enviros

informal  an environmentalist

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
So where does that take me round to on my mummy ramblings ahh yes. my last little find , this one for my son for Easter - he too like his sister a firm enviro ( seems I was the last to come aboard) . He loves the natural wood and I wanted to find something that would be personal too him and that he could tuck under his catering uniform as he cannot ear anything metallic for obvious reasons. We talked about a few options and I was shown some ideas and I have to say it is everything I wanted for him and a little bit more.  And for now my #daisychains is going to have a rest - if you want to join in or just stop by and show your support come and find us on facebook and click through the albums to see some of our reviews and recommends. With thanks to all that contributed to the photos in this blog. 

Friday, 8 March 2013

Happy Mothers 2013.Give yourself a hug!

2002 My sister Sam and I prep a meal together for the very first time

Many years ago I wrote an article about how social media had enabled me to find and reunite with my two sisters and youngest brother and how it had been those first few virtual hugs that had begun what I thought at the time a healing of our long lost family. As mother's day approaches I cannot even begin to imagine how hard every year was for my mother to face the knowledge of not knowing where or what her children were doing. I am lucky as my children have chosen to swap their weekend with their dad's allowing 5 of my 6 home for the weekend which will be very pleasant indeed .

My mum visiting my siblings in the USA

When we eventually arranged to meet up things were of course very different , my youngest brother had been my sons best friend and nursery and spent many a tea time running around my flat as at the time I was housed in a temporary shelter for the homeless just above their nursery school. Now here they were virtual strangers with nothing in common and no memory of their past. My two sisters had also changed into teenagers and I was a mum of 5 and naturally whilst I wanted to like them , the fact was they had been bought up by a different mother and we just had different ways of dealing with things and through the course of events have only seen each other at two or three major events since then. My sister Sam and I are possibly the most able to empathize with each other as she is now a mum of 3 herself and we have spent more time together both in real time and via skype although naturally we still have our sibling disagreements lol !
My mum and I
I am lucky as I am the eldest daughter to my mum and remember and know more about her than my siblings, perhaps that is why even now at my age I still pick up the phone twice a week (sometimes more lol ) for a quick gossip. A catch up and to let her know we're thinking of her. She lives alone after what some would consider an amazing life of the swankiest parties and the greatest of advetures and travels, she is surrounded by people who admire and love her and I witnesses this when I attended the funeral earlier this year.
my ex mother in law who we call Nanny Pat with P & Q
Whilst she may not have her children again this year on Mothers day I hope she and some of the other ladies who have now become close 'sisters' with her have a lovely Sunday lunch together and treat themselves. After all it is not about having your children buy you something or even being there a lot of us have ether lost our children or our mothers due to forces beyond our control.
My Nan and I with my little sister Sam ( my mums mum passed away shortly after my first son was born)

 It is not about giving birth to a child yourself - think of all those innate natural motherly acts we do as women even on a day to day basis , sometimes for complete strangers .

When do you feel like a mum?
My reminder to do the best I can!
It is about celebrating that motherly love and accepting that you are doing the best you can. 
Did you know for example that when you wrap your arms around yourself that your own body is unable to differentiate whether the hug has not come you or from someone else .
Try it , and take a deep breath ad count to 3 and then breath out keep your arms wrapped round you ?

(my poppy sparkles necklace celebrating my family )
 However you would naturally respond to a hug at that given time is just how you will find yourself reacting . So go on give yourself a hug , remind yourself of all the motherly acts you do . Its all about making your environment better , improving your wealth ( which at times tbh = your health) and leaving you with something to think about . Its your Choice .
My finished Jute bag doing the best I can to use a recyclable bag that expresses my personality and shows of my new necklace and my #daisychains which I often share when I find something that inspires me and I want to share it with others.

                     And if like me you want to go a little further and treat yourself to a little something with a personal touch I can highly recommend the personal touch that both Viv and Sally gave to my gifts this year. I am sure they would love to help create something for you , not in time to celebrate mothers day but how about just to celebrate the motherhood ! The power of you or celebrate just being you ? Lets face it we never reward ourselves we?
       You can find out more about the talented artist who created my necklace and my bag here Poppy Sparkles and Cutie Pie Jute Bags and our lovely little community who are doing the best they can on facebook is Envirowealth - We know there are lots of pages to LiKe Love and Share , we just do the best we can , if you would like to get involved do get in touch . Have a great weekend x